Four organisations have been awarded a grant of £10m each to facilitate their expansion and to offer improved SME lending and payment services.

The Board of Banking Competition Remedies (BCR) announced the results of the Capability and Innovation Fund (CIF) Pool C grant process, which will see Modulr Finance, Atom Bank, Iwoca and The Currency Cloud Group receive grants.

Each organisation undertook an application process, detailing how it will address this issue and provided the BCR with a set of public commitments stating what it will deliver with these funds. Progress against these public commitments will be published on a quarterly basis on the BCR website.

A total of 5.6m SMEs in the UK account for 60% of all private sector employment and half of all private sector turnover, according to the FSB, but accessing payment options remains a challenge for many.

Myles Stephenson, CEO of Modulr, a payments as a service API platform that focuses on digital businesses, said: “We want to make tired old payment technology a thing of the past for neglected Accountants and SMEs.

“Modulr was founded with a purpose to make money flow more efficiently through businesses and the economy. This award from the CIF will help us deliver on our vision and passion to support SME businesses to thrive across the UK.

“This is a great opportunity to bring an entirely new digital solution to market; the benefits of unlocking automation and straight-through payment processing will radically change the way SMEs and accountants do business.”

Payment control and efficiency

One commitment made by Modulr is to create a new product – the Accountant Payments Control Centre (APCC) – which the organisation states will “deliver greater control, automation and efficiency for Modulr’s accountant and SME clients.” Modulr will also match the CIF £10m in raised funds that it claims will lead to the creation of a minimum 64 new jobs within the UK.

Wider investments will be made to further drive competition by providing a digitally native alternative for businesses to integrate payments into their products and business platforms quickly and easily using Modulr’s API platform. Modulr will also offer new partners the availability to utilise its API to launch innovative payment solutions including payment collection services, treasury management and fraud control services.

Godfrey Cromwell, BCR’s chairman, commented: “Pool C centres on lending and payments services to SMEs. The four selected organisations address these areas and complete our portfolio of CIF grants.

“Now the emphasis is on monitoring each recipient’s reporting and deliverables. Their public commitments can be seen on our website and performance against these will be regularly updated there.”

BCR received a total of 76 applications for the Pool C process during an application window between 1 May 2019 and 28 June 2019. The commitments of the CIF recipients can be found here.

Earlier this year, Modulr announced its partnership with Sage, the market leader in cloud business management solutions, to simplify the task of managing accounts payable and payroll payments for millions of UK businesses.

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